The Belgian Federal government (represented by 3 ministers), has introduced the "Projet de loi relatif aux communications électroniques" / "Wetsontwerp betreffende de elektronische communicatie" in the Federal House of Representatives.

This is the Bill to transpose the package of EU directives on electronic communications into Belgian law (well after the formal deadline of 24 July 2003 stipulated by the directives, making Belgium one of the last Member States to introduce draft legislation in Parliament).

Among the (more recent) reasons for the delay in preparing and adopting this legislation (advanced drafts of which have been available since 2002) is a ruling by the Court of Arbitration (Arrêt n° 132/2004 of 14 July 2004) relating to the division of responsibilities between the Federal level and the Community level (Flemish, French and Germanophone) in Belgium.

The specific issue at stake is the power of the Federal level (including the regulatory authority BIPT) to regulate (fixed and wireless) networks that can be used both for broadcasting purposes and for telecommunications, given that the Belgian constitution attributes responsibilities for culture, including broadcasting, to the Communities.

The Council of State, which is formally to be consulted on all draft legislation, has also reflected rulings of the Court of Arbitration in its comments on the draft of the Bill on electronic communications which was adopted by the Federal Government in May 2004 (see also the previous T-REGS news item on this topic, which discussed the main thrusts of the draft legislation).

The full text (in French and in Dutch) of the Bill on electronic communications can be accessed by clicking here.

For a discussion, please contact Yves Blondeel.

Update 1: Key discussions in the Parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure of the House of Representatives will be held on 17 Nov and 24 Nov 2004. Update 2: the Committee meeting of 24 Nov 2004 was postponed just before it was scheduled to begin (T-REGS was represented), on account of illness of the Minister. A new date has not yet been determined; it is expected to be 29 or 30 Nov 2004. Update 3: the Committee meeting is now scheduled for 8 Dec 2004, 14:00h. Update 4: the next Committee meeting will be held on 21 Dec 2004, 10:00h.